Mathias looked about to yell again, but Aubrey piped up, “I agree.”
“It’s a catch-22,” Ivan offered.
“Whatever it is, it’s stupid on our part for letting them make it to where we can’t prepare ourselves,” Mira added.
“I know, I know,” Mathias said, sounding almost annoyed but they knew he agreed. “We’ve never stayed anywhere long enough to set up the right area…. But we are farther out then we’ve ever been before…. so I’ll see what I can do.”
“Okay now, everyone happy?” Amelia asked, but didn’t wait for answers. “Mira and I set up two bedrooms upstairs for tonight so everyone go get settled. We’ve got a big day ahead of us tomorrow.”
Connelly, Ivan, and Mathias went back out to the cars to gather the rest of their belongings. “Hey Dad?” Connelly asked and Mathias raised his brows, signaling he was listening. “What about food tonight? Too risky?”
“I think it’s a little too dangerous to do it our first night here,” Mathias answered after a second, “but first thing tomorrow we’ll find something. I think we’ll be fine until then.”
“What about – him?” Ivan prodded.
“I don’t know,” Mathias was shaking his head, but it was obvious he was thinking about it. “No. We just met him tonight. I don’t –”
Heavy wings beat air down on them from above as an enormous animal landed nearby, holding something equally large in its jaws. “Having trust issues already, Mathias?” The voice of the dealmaker was gravelly and deep, befitting the monstrous beast walking towards them. He was three times the size of the largest wolf, black as night, but with bright yellow eyes that were trained on Mathias.
“No,” Mathias said, trying to remain calm, “I was going to say that we don’t know you well enough to ask for a favor like that. We’ve only had an alliance for a few hours, and this seems…”
“An alliance is an alliance. As long as you keep up your end and let me keep the Chronicle tonight.”
“I have it right here.” Mathias gestured towards his coat pocket.
“Tonight?” Connelly echoed. The twins’ eyes widened and Connelly’s throat clenched in an attempt not to say anything. How did they know he wasn’t just going to run off somewhere else no one would ever find him, and after they had just sacrificed almost everyone they had? He looked to his father, who was looking at the dealmaker’s hardened stare.
The Dealmaker glanced at Connelly, and then back to Mathias. “Having trust issues already, Mathias?” His lip started making the smallest of twitches.
“No, they’re just not used to this sort of thing.” Mathias reached into his coat and produced The Dark Chronicle, a dagger resembling a wing.
“Well, you better get used to it, because the other Protectors may not be as easy to persuade as I.”
“How many more are there?” Connelly asked, but once The Dealmaker had his prize he disappeared into the night with it and his kill.
“Dad, are you sure?” Ivan asked once the dealmaker was really gone.
Mathias shushed him instantly. “Yes and he’s right. An alliance is an alliance, and I don’t think he will go against us. If he didn’t believe in our cause he wouldn’t have agreed to help in the first place. Now, go tell the others dinner will be arriving shortly.”
Connelly bit back the argument on his tongue and obeyed. They consumed their dinner in silence and then it was time for bed. Aubrey and Alister were sleeping next door with their parents while the twins were stuck with Mira, who was once again whining about always being on the run, never having any nice things except for what they needed for their cover, blah, blah, blah.
It took almost no effort to tune her out as Connelly unrolled his sleeping bag and pillow. He knew her complaining was in part to cope with her fears about their dangerous plans and the horrible things that continued to plague them. He couldn’t deny that it seemed impossible at times to see them succeeding instead of running to their deaths, but there had to be hope somewhere.
Without a word to the others, he slid into his sleeping bag and got comfortable, ready for the nightmares he knew were coming. They were going to torture him with his deepest fear of losing everything he loved. The pressure on them to succeed was almost unbearable, but the outcome of the world should they fail was inconceivable. If they were going to win this for sure, he knew they couldn’t do it alone, and there was no room for error.